My frustrations with Firefox and Chrome.

19th January, 2020

As a Front-end Dev, browsers obviously play a major factor in my world, more than the average Joe. Looking at the ones I have installed today, you could say there's quite the range. Simply because we need to test with as many as possible. They all have their pros and cons and certainly quirks of course but that 's all part of the fun. Aside from this though, It would be nice to have just one to fall back on as the "go to" for doing everything. But I really struggle with choosing, with what should be, a simple decision...

How I feel browsers fit in my life right now. Wanting Firefox but chrome creeps over... The other's, just near by.

About 60% of last year, I used Chrome as my "regular" and the rest Firefox. You see, I've always had a soft spot for Firefox. 2 particular reasons: a) Their belief in an open web and b) their constant drive towards online protection. I value their cultural beliefs and drive for a safer web. For a long period in 2019, I swapped and changed between Chrome and Firefox countless times and it got to a point where I got so frustrated and sick to the teeth that I always (reluctantly) ended up switching back to Chrome.

The frustrations:

The honeymoon phase of using Firefox is always awesome. A breathe of fresh air, every time. Feeling more protected when browsing, with great looking stats on the trackers/cookies Firefox blocks - resulting in user confidence and site's on the whole, appeared to load faster. Then there's the dev tools, which are a league above Chrome's. Both in aesthetics and functionality - especially for CSS/HTML debugging. Overall, my browsing experience was a huge leap forwards. And most Importantly too, it feels great stepping away from creepy Google.

Then a short-while in, the same annoyances crop up:

  • Lag: After a short time of using the dev tools, excessively, they start to chug away, feeling nowhere near as snappy as Chrome and can be painfully slow at times. The overall interface starts to really slow down, by the end of each day, especially on site's where you have full page videos. So end up having to close and reopen.
  • CPU/Memory: By the end of each day, Firefox is eating gigs of RAM and large CPU. For a long time they've said that the memory leak issues were fixed and that it uses less than Chrome. I contest that as in my experience, it's no better than Chrome.
  • Chrome only sites: I've found some site's i use on a regularly basis to stutter when they use heavy amounts of JavaScript. For example, 1 of those in-particular I use, is CodeSandBox. Clicking around, the stalling is unbearable. To the point where keyboard and mouse input becomes unusable. Switch to chrome and replicate the same actions and the site works smoothly. I know the v8 engine is the fastest of all browsers but it's still no excuse for developers to spend their time, working towards Chrome.

At the end of last year, I said to myself, for January, I'd give Firefox a go again. See if I can stick it out for at least month. And here I am, writing this in mid January, on the day I've switched back to Chrome again. For the reasons said above. Always those reasons. F.R.U.S.T.R.A.T.I.N.G.

Don't get me wrong, Chrome has it's issues as well but their relatively minor, compared to those listed above and unfortunately are a big factor in my choosing of a "regular". Which is a shame as everything else about Firefox, I adore.
Switching back to Chrome makes me feel dirty. I don't wish to continue using it as my regular, but the more that developers build Chrome only sites/apps, the more it feels we have to - unless we want to put up with less than adequate experiences. Which is sad, because developers should be giving people the choice, without compromise, and yet now, it seems that Chrome is the new I.E.

Firefox, I ❤️you. I just wish more developers did too.